An alliance of maritime welfare charities, including Maritime Charities Group (MCG) members the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) and Trinity House, have joined forces with The Marine Society to launch a bursary fund for seafarer training in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is aimed at merchant seafarers who are based in the UK and are facing redundancy as a direct result of COVID-19.

Through the initiative, applicants will be eligible for funding towards training that will help them secure a new job in other sectors of the maritime industry. The MCG has identified the superyacht sector as a key target for which such seafarers could acquire funding for training.   

Speaking about the initiative, Commander Graham Hockley LVO RN and Chair of the MCG commented; “The cruise and ferry sectors have been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. We know from our trade union contacts that around 2,000 merchant seafarers are already facing redundancy and more are likely to follow. Jobs are in short supply but the market will pick up so now’s the time to invest in training and skills development.”

The aim of the initiative is to enable those currently working in the maritime industry to stay in the industry, if possible. While some superyacht crew have also faced redundancy or employment challenges due to COVID-19 this year, the superyacht sector is arguably more robust than other maritime sectors in times of economic hardship, and may benefit from new but highly-skilled candidates being re-trained for yachting.

The bursary is aimed at UK Merchant Navy seafarers of all ranks and departments who can demonstrate a planned route back into a maritime-related role, whether seagoing or shore-side. Applicants can self-select whatever training or qualifications they feel will help them. This can include generic skills such as interview preparation or CV writing tailored to a maritime industry. Courses can include MCA-approved and STCW refresher qualifications, maritime-related professional diplomas or ICS qualifications.

Explaining how the scheme will work, Darrell Bate, director of maritime training and development at The Marine Society, said; “We want to make the process as simple as possible for anyone applying for this new funding. All they need to do is prove that their job is being made redundant, find a course that fills a gap in their training or skills, and apply online through a dedicated page on the Marine Society website. We can also provide information about what’s out there, so if you need help with ideas just get in touch.”

To find out more about the MCG redundancy and retraining bursary fund and how to apply, click here.


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